The age division between the parents and kids in Bob's Burgers usually divides them simply in terms of storytelling. In the most recent Halloween episode, the parents have their own plot, and the kids have theirs. This makes real-world sense, of course, but comedy thrives at taking its normal modes and flipping them. “Bob Fires The Kids” is effective because it doesn't just divide the kids and the parents: It sets them against one another.
Its premise and structure are reminiscent of classic Simpsons style. There's an initial bit of total weirdness, where Bob receives a package of his old “toys,” which make him (and everyone else) realize that his childhood working in his dad's restaurant was terrible. Louise's response: “It's like I'm sad... for another person. Is that a thing? AM I GOING CRAZY?”
So Bob fires the kids and sends them to have a “fun” summer, which they have no idea how to do. Then he replaces them with Mickey, the bank robber he befriended when taken hostage last season. The kids, bored and confused, want their old jobs back, while Bob insists he knows best for them and shoves them out the door. “Ugh. Why are you guys stronger than me?” “Pilates!” Seeing the kids try to reason with Bob is always amusing, but it's especially so this time, because both sides are totally irrational. They can only guess at what's best overall, but that ends up being what's most comfortable for them. So they yell, and it would only be mildly superficial to say that the more yelling there is, the better Bob's Burgers is.
However, once the kids finally resolve to leave, the episode slows down a little bit. They end up working for a pair of old hippies farming blueberries, voiced by very un-Ron Swanson-like Nick Offerman, and a fairly typical Megan Mullally. The hippies happen to be running the town's weed business, and hiring the kids to help out would seem to lead to comic gold. But Bob's Burgers only really seems to take advantage of it when Tina becomes the duped delivery girl. We get a quick montage of her deliveries through the town—Kevin Kline shows up for 10 seconds! Marshmallow reappears!—and then she gets amusingly violent with an apparent homeless man begging for a free sample. But the rest is pretty forgettable, with a few jokes relying on them being old people who grow weed. Only the farmers' last action, when they try to flee the DEA on a tandem bike, is amusing in and of itself.
Still, even though the main plot loses some momentum at the conclusion, “Bob Fires The Kids” keeps from sinking thanks to a steady stream of great lines going throughout. I'm perfectly happy to laugh throughout an episode as a fan, even though as a critic I might occasionally want just a little bit more.
- Bob has an announcement for the kids, who think it's a new sibling. “I knew I spotted a bump.” “Wha? No, I'm gassy!”
- “Yeah. American Dream. Gal in a barn.” Mickey's kinda low-key great.
- “That doesn't sound fun. That sounds hurtful.”